Nineties teen movies are the movies that I grew up on, and being the movie buff that I am, I have to assume that most of the movies I watched as a kid, must have influenced my perceptions on life in some way, shape, or form. Given that I was only 10-years-old at most when these movies came out, these mid-twenties actors casted as high school students gave me pretty unrealistic expectations about being a teenager. (i.e: Stacey Dash was nearly 30 when she played Dionne in Clueless). I’m not just talking about any movies that were released sometime in the 90’s decade, I’m referring to the 90’s movies that are focused around a high-school environment, most of which sharing the same stereotypes and since most of them contained a lot of similarities, I guess I anticipated life to be something like them.
I assumed that belly shirts and mini-skirts were acceptable attire in a high school dress code. I looked forward to the awesome house parties which brought together the whole school. Senior prom was depicted where the hottest band of your time performs in front of your random public school; everyone loses their virginity to his or her prom date that night and we all get to choreograph a flash mob dance at the end. I assumed that once I got to high school, boys would look like Freddie Prinze Jr. and Heath Ledger. I was pretty disappointed with the male line-up in my school compared to the heartthrob look-a-likes I was expecting. Although my teenage years did not turn out quite like I expected, I have the movies from my childhood to thank for a little bit of advice. So I have compiled a list of lessons from 90’s movies that kind of just stuck with me.
First of all, it’s been nearly 20 years since the movie Clueless came out and I am still jealous of Cher Horowitz’s closet. This movie was the reason the phrases “As if” and “like totally buggin” were added to my vocabulary, and looking back now, I probably sounded ridiculous. I learned a few good lessons from this flick. Number 1: Never take advice from “a virgin who can’t drive.” In this scene, Brittany Murphy (R.I.P.) burns Alicia Silverstone pretty badly, but sometimes you just have to say it how it is. Another takeaway from this 90’s classic is coined by Cher herself; “Searching for a boy in high school is as useless as searching for meaning in a Pauly Shore movie.” I totally should have accepted this advice back in ’95 rather than trying to piece together why I couldn’t find a halfway decent guy when I finally got to high school. Moving on, reading between the lines a bit, we establish that in Cher’s world, all of the best guys are either taken or gay. Why would the real world be any different? But never result to falling in love with your stepbrother as a result. This brings me to my next movie…
This fiery twisted film was filled with seduction, drugs, blackmail, girl-on-girlction, guy-on-guy action, profanity and questionable incest relations between step-siblings played by Ryan Phillippe and Sarah Michelle Gellar. What’s not to love? Sebastian (Phillippe) mentions in one scene, “Email is for geeks and pedophiles.” Okay, maybe in the 90’s, but technology has emerged to where I think we can omit that one for now. Next lesson: a great phrase to live by, which unlike the former, I don’t believe will ever become obsolete over-time; “keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.” We can thank Sarah Michelle Gellar for prepping us to not let all the backstabbing bitches get the best of us.
Can’t Hardly Wait
The Original Teen Movie; this classic never gets old to me. It introduced many celebs that we fell in love with over the years; Jennifer Love Hewitt, Seth Green, Ethan Embry, Jamie Pressly, Peter Facinelli (Carlisle in Twilight??), and a small debuting part by Jason Segal. This 90’s rom com gives us totally unrealistic expectations about high school house parties. But we fall hard for the “I love you, but you don’t know I exist” cliché.
Wish Upon a Star
Beside the obvious message; “be careful what you wish for/the grass isn’t always greener on the other side”, this Disney movie which introduces Katherine Heigl in her prime, teaches us girls that to be popular, you need to come up with a set of rules with your catty girlfriends that require you to shave your legs every single day and forbid us from repeating outfits. It all makes sense now. Is this why I’m so fucked up?
Rose McGowan plays the ultimate bad bitch. She makes Regina George look like an angel compared to the role she plays as Courtney Shayne. She accidentally kills her best friend, then went about her day as if everything was “peachy fucking keen.” Moral of the story: Don’t play birthday pranks on your friends that could potentially kill them, nor should you stage their death as a rape in the event of it happening. I’m also terrified of jawbreakers now.
10 Things I Hate About You
I have been in love with Heath Ledger since the moment I first heard him singing Rod Stewart’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” on the bleachers. (RIP my love!) A few takeaways from it; rebellious girls who don’t care what other people think can be tamed by a sexy Aussie. I also learned an effective tactic of sneaking someone out of detention: distract your teacher by flashing your boobs! I actually never got the chance to try it, but I’m sure it has a pretty high success rate. Larisa Oleynik, casted as Bianca (even though I always remember her from The Secret World of Alex Mack) teaches us a few valuable life lessons as well; she explicitly states that “you don’t buy black lingerie unless you want someone to see it.” I think of this quote nearly every time I slip on my little black panties. I’m not sure why this stuck with me over the years, it seems silly, but the girl has a point. She also expresses that you don’t know the difference between “like” and “love” until you own a designer bag.
She’s All That
It’s your classic Hollywood fairy tale. Popular jock makes a bet that he can turn a nerdy girl into Prom Queen, but in the midst of the bet, he falls in love. Girl finds out about the bet and breaks up with him. He apologizes and they live happily ever after. This movie is cheesy, but we still eat it all up. She’s All That taught me that you can have an entire makeover to increase your popularity just by taking off your glasses, losing the ponytail and a simple wardrobe change. No kidding! Freddie Prinze Jr. taught us 90’s kids the importance of never backing out of a bet. In the case of it going sour and then losing the bet, showing up to your high school graduation in your birthday suit is a great form of apology if you’re ever looking for some forgiveness.
This movie was hilarious, awkward, raunchy, and yet brilliant. If you incorporate “this one time at band camp” into a conversation anywhere, there is no doubt that everyone will know what you’re talking about. American Pie taught male viewers that you can’t go to college as a virgin; they have special dorms for people like you. From a girl perspective, I learned that boys are perverted horn dogs and are clueless in the female department. Well, teenagers for that matter. This movie keeps me laughing hysterically from start to finish every time.
…So maybe it was just me and my girlfriends, but after watching The Craft we pretty much convinced ourselves that we were witches. We may or may not have attempted to reenact their “light as a feather, stiff as a board” scene, and claimed it to have worked, even though we knew that it didn’t. And I won’t deny that we also wrote up our own spell book. Needless to say, they didn’t have the highest success rates. So I suppose what I eventually learned from this film is that I am not, in fact a witch, nor do I possess any type of supernatural powers, as much as I would have liked to convince myself otherwise.
Never Been Kissed
This movie always put the idea in my head that I should be Disco Barbie for Halloween once I grew boobs and could look as good as Jessica Alba in that costume. Thinking about it now, it was a little odd that she wore that as her prom dress. However, this movie taught me that one bad nick-name could ruin your teenage life, and if you are a nerd in high school, it is likely that you’ll still be a nerd when you grow up… unless of course you have a popular brother who can help you get to the top. We learn from David Arquette (Rob) that all it takes is for one popular person to think you’re cool, and you’re in. I guess that could be true to an extent, but it also fogs our expectations a bit. It’s a harsh world out there.